Match ends, Aberdeen 1, Motherwell 0.
Aberdeen 1-0 Motherwell
- Jonny Hayes scores early Aberdeen winner
- Aberdeen move above Celtic into fifth
- Motherwell remain second bottom
- Well lose at Pittodrie for first time in 10 visits
Jonny Hayes' early strike was enough to end Motherwell's nine-game unbeaten run at Pittodrie and move Aberdeen above Celtic in the Scottish Premiership.
The Dons will remain fifth at least until the reigning champions take on Kilmarnock on Sunday.
It started so brightly when Hayes broke through to score after two minutes.
But the Dons will take few positives other than three points from what was a dull war of attrition against visitors so obviously in football's doldrums.
Motherwell arrived looking to protect a proud record of not having lost at Pittodrie since November 2008.
Their last visit, on the final league day of last season, ended with a 1-0 victory that allowed the men in claret and amber to leapfrog their opponents and clinch the runners-up spot in the top-flight.
However, these are changed days, with the Steelmen looking more punch drunk than punching above their weight as the Motherwell miracle forged by Stuart McCall begins to run out of budget-belying steam.
This time they made the journey north sitting second bottom - three points above hapless Ross County - without a win in five games, having lost their last three and being 12 points worse off than at the same stage last season.
Aberdeen themselves were looking to recover from a bruising 3-0 defeat by surprise leaders Hamilton Academical, their first defeat in six games.
Manager Derek McInnes had wielded the axe, somewhat surprisingly, in the direction of goalkeeper Jamie Langfield, with summer signing Scott Brown handed a second start.
However, it was his more offensive changes - Peter Pawlett and Niall McGinn replaced Barry Robson and Adam Rooney - that paid an immediate dividend.
An intricate series of passes culminated in fleet-footed Hayes sweeping past a statuesque Stephen McManus before the winger buried a low drive under goalkeeper Dan Twardzik.
Hayes was buzzing and the stunned Well defence was almost immediately stung a second time as the winger burst into their penalty area once more and sent a deft chip on to the roof of the net.
There was no lack of effort from the visitors as they first steadied the ship then worked their way back into the game, but they were given a helping hand by former Cheltenham goalkeeper Brown.
Poor handling from the 29-year-old allowed McManus a chance to half-volley just over and, when the Englishman failed to command his penalty box at another corner, Simon Ramsden's powerful header just evaded the crossbar.
Motherwell, though, having scored a mere six league goals this season, were rarely able to fashion a chance through their own devices and it was not until the 75th minute that a Craig Reid snap shot the defender knew little about forced a save from Brown.
Four changes from McCall - starting Josh Law, Fraser Kerr, Reid and fit-again Stevie Hammell in place of Mark O'Brien, Lionel Ainsworth, Jack Leitch and Iain Vigurs - had failed to add any zip or creativity to his charges.
Not that the Dons were much better and the closest the home side came to adding to the scoring was an in-swinging Robson corner that was fumbled by Twardzik, one of a string of nervous moments from the goalkeeper that exemplified the dark hole of uncertainty engulfing Fir Park.
- 16PawlettSubstituted forRooneyat 61'minutes
- 11HayesSubstituted forSmithat 84'minutes
- 17GoodwillieSubstituted forRobsonat 74'minutes
- 6McManusBooked at 47mins
- 17Francis-AngolSubstituted forAinsworthat 88'minutes
- 14LasleyBooked at 70mins
- 18LawSubstituted forErwinat 75'minutes
- 24OjamaaSubstituted forMcHughat 75'minutes
- Crawford Allan
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Aberdeen 1, Motherwell 0.
Attempt missed. Shaleum Logan (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.
Substitution, Motherwell. Lionel Ainsworth replaces Zaine Francis-Angol.
Mark Reynolds (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).
Substitution, Aberdeen. Cameron Smith replaces Jonny Hayes.
Attempt missed. Niall McGinn (Aberdeen) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.
Barry Robson (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Robert McHugh (Motherwell).
Niall McGinn (Aberdeen) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).
Attempt saved. Craig Reid (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Substitution, Motherwell. Lee Erwin replaces Josh Law.
Substitution, Motherwell. Robert McHugh replaces Henrik Ojamaa.
Substitution, Aberdeen. Barry Robson replaces David Goodwillie.
Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Stephen McManus.
Attempt blocked. Shaleum Logan (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.
Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Jonny Hayes.
Keith Lasley (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.
Hand ball by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).
Attempt missed. David Goodwillie (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right.
Attempt missed. David Goodwillie (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the left.
Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Steven Hammell.
Substitution, Aberdeen. Adam Rooney replaces Peter Pawlett.
Niall McGinn (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Craig Reid (Motherwell).
Foul by Willo Flood (Aberdeen).
Keith Lasley (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Henrik Ojamaa (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Simon Ramsden (Motherwell) because of an injury.
Attempt blocked. Willo Flood (Aberdeen) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt saved. Shaleum Logan (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Attempt blocked. Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Peter Pawlett (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Henrik Ojamaa (Motherwell).
Stephen McManus (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.
David Goodwillie (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.